Three prominent DA leaders appear ready to take on John Steenhuisen for the party’s top job ahead of its May elections.
Bonginkosi Madikizela, the Western Cape DA leader, John Moodey, the leader of the DA in Gauteng, and Mbali Ntuli, a DA member from the party’s provincial legislature, appear to be ready to toss their names into the hat for the position.
The man who took on Steenhuisen in November, Makashule Gana, said it was unlikely he would do so again.
Asked why, Gana said he is no longer interested in the post.
Madikizela would have stood for the position of interim leader at the party’s special federal council meeting in November, but withdrew from the race at the last minute.
He said this was because he had been serving as the MEC for transport and public works in the Western Cape for only six months at the time of the election. Madikizela, however, confirmed to IOL that he would be available this time around.
Moodey also confirmed that he had “been approached to make himself available” and that he was “seriously” considering it.
He is known for having stood squarely behind former DA leader Mmusi Maimane.
He was a key figure in the so-called premier league of the DA – a group of provincial leaders who lent their weight and support to Maimane when it became clear that the party would call for his head following a review report regarding the DA’s poor performance in last year’s election.
Moodey also supported Athol Trollip to be chairperson of the federal council, but Helen Zille won the election.
Ntuli is a former federal youth leader of the DA and was named last year as one of the world’s top-five youngest politicians by the London-based One Young World.
She had not responded to questions about whether she would stand at the time of going to print.
A DA MP in the Steenhuisen camp said the interim leader was not concerned about the competition.
“Let them come. John will beat them all,” said the MP.
Although Steenhuisen easily trumped Gana at the federal council meeting in November, the federal congress in May will be a different matter.
At the special meeting only about 150 delegates voted, even though the congress involves all of the DA’s branches in the process.
Steenhuisen isn’t the only one who should expect tough competition.
Mike Moriarty, DA chairperson in Gauteng and the party’s chief whip in the Gauteng legislature, confirmed to the Sunday Times that he would make himself available as a contender for Zille’s post.
Yesterday Maimane called Steenhuisen a “Judas” on Twitter in response to an EWN story that quoted Steenhuisen as saying Maimane “focused too much on bashing the ANC”.
Maimane hit back on Twitter, posting: “Someone should tell Judas Steenhusien to keep my name out of his mouth. It won’t end well for him. Just focus on your work and I will focus on my work. He must ask [Ghaleb] Cachalia.
Cachalia is a senior DA MP who has previously had words with Maimane on social media.
It is understood that the relationship between Steenhuisen and Maimane has broken down so badly that they no longer speak to each other.